ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — His teammates call him “Psycho D.” The D stands for Dalton, although no one would be surprised if it was for Dad.
Dalton Bolon is 24, six years older than many of his College of Charleston teammates, and nearing the end of his college career. It’s a seven-year journey that spans two schools, three degrees, countless teammates and now the NCAA Tournament.
“Looking for an eighth (year),” the guard quipped Wednesday. “If there’s a way I can get an eighth, if you people could tell me how, that would be great.”
Bolon’s NCAA eligibility finally expires at the end of this season. He’s counting on it not happening Thursday when 12th-seeded Charleston (31-3) plays No. 5 seed San Diego State (24-9) in the South Region.
It will be the 155th collegiate game Bolon has played, finishing the last two seasons at Charleston after five years at Division II West Liberty in West Virginia. How did he get such an extended stay?
For starters, he redshirted as a freshman at West Liberty and then played four seasons for the Hilltoppers. He earned an extra year because of COVID-19 and decided to make the jump to Division I Charleston as a graduate transfer.
He broke his right foot three games into what should have been his final season and was granted a medical redshirt for another year. So now’s he’s closing in on his 25th birthday and his third college graduation ceremony.
“They just call me ‘Old Man,’” he said. “They say I’m like 30. Really? I’m young for my age.”
He’s the butt of many age jokes — Bolon’s “got a mortgage to pay” and “kids back home” — and even provides fodder. He wears “dad shoes” when he’s not on the court, something wider and more comfortable for his still-sore foot.
“I don’t care what anybody says,” Bolon said. “They see grandpas wearing these things. Like, grandpas are the smartest people on the earth. I don’t know why people don’t take their advice more often. These are so comfortable.”
He’s admittedly “not as hip” as his teammates, which shows up mostly when they’re choosing music to play in the locker room.
“But, honestly, we’re not crazy far apart,” he said. “I’m still in the same stage of life that they are, best friends with all of ’em, to be honest with you.”
They look up to him because of his age and experience and admire him for his determination in returning from last year’s season-ending injury. He also does enough wild things to earn the “psycho” nickname.
“He’s probably the craziest dude I’ve ever met,” teammate Jack Miller said.
Bolon is steady on the court, averaging 12.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. He talks trash, makes 3-pointers and is willing to sacrifice his body to help the Cougars win.
They’ve done that as well as anyone in the country this season — 10 in a row and 30 of 32 since getting blown out at North Carolina in early November.
The Colonial Athletic Association champions have a chance to notch their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1997 — and with a starting guard who was born a year later and doesn’t want his college career to end.
“It would be super impressive if he gets an eighth year,” Miller said. “I mean he’s really working the system at that point.”
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